The Islamic human rights advocacy group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has urged the Federal Government to amend the Nigerian marriage laws that will allow married women to bear their father’s names.
This was revealed in a press release signed by the group’s director, Prof. Ishag Akintola, on Monday, 18th December 2023. He described the current practice that forces married women to bear their husband’s surnames as gender discriminatory, archaic and oppressive.
In his statement, Akintola said, “Our attention has been drawn to the plight of married Muslim women who are being disallowed by employers from bearing their father’s names. This amounts to forceful enslavement, denial of Allah-given fundamental human right to parental identity and wrongful dismissal of loco parentis.
Also, the group condemned the current practice for depriving women of their Allah-given fundamental human rights to personal and parental identity in marriage.
“We condemn the current practice for three major reasons, namely, for generating confusion in the society, for creating a monumental identity crisis among married women and for depriving women of their Allah-given fundamental human right to personal as well as parental identity in marriage.
“Instead of this, we advocate the adoption of the women-friendly Islamic practice which allows married women to bear their fathers’ surnames after marriage.
Akintola added that, “No woman dropped suddenly from the sky and even if some appear out of nowhere, they must have been born, bred, nurtured, buttered and marmaladed by certain parents before they grew up and matured into womanhood. Their education was also sponsored by their parents at a time that the future husband probably knew nothing about them and spent no kobo on their upbringing and their education.
“It therefore beats logic, fairness and natural justice that a husband appears out of nowhere to commandeer a woman’s parental identity simply by marrying her. Such identity robbery also has its advantages.
“For instance, women who are educated are forced to advertise change of names to their husbands’ surnames after marriage in order to retain the validity of their documents and properties. It often becomes very difficult and sometimes impossible for married women to be located or to retain old friends due to such change of name.
The statement further stated, “Those who want to be sincere among married women today will confirm the stress they have gone through from this experience. Islam sets women free from such stress by permitting married women to retain their original family names.
“Contrary to the general claim that Islam discriminates against women, Islamic liberation theology actually teaches respect for the dignity of women in all circumstances. One of such circumstances is the period when women are in wedlock. Whereas Western civilization robs married women of their original family identity by insisting that they should bear their husbands’ surnames, the Shari’ah allows women to bear their own fathers’ names even after marriage.
“We therefore invite the Federal Government and other relevant authorities to set the machinery in motion towards allowing married women to bear their fathers’ names. In particular, we charge both houses in the National Assembly, Senate and the House of Representatives, to introduce the necessary bills that will set Nigerian women free from undue masculine domination.
“This advocacy is not for Muslim women alone. We are certain that Muslim women are not the only ones who feel the pinch. MURIC will love to see every married woman who desires to be identified by her father’s name enabled to do so. Our lawmakers should frame the clauses in such a way that all women can enjoy the freedom to choose between bearing their fathers’ names or their husbands’. It is time to set Nigerian women free. They are the mothers of our society.
“We contend that the whole gamut of women liberation struggle boils down to a sham and a mirage until this goal is achieved. A married woman is not a slave. She is not just a dot in social statistics. She has a soul and that soul yearns for love. She covets to love and be loved, not only by her husband but also by her family and vice versa. Nigeria must not fail her. Parental identity is sacrosanct. Husbands can never replace fathers in matters of parental identity and that is what the current system compels women to go through. Enough is enough,” said Akintola.